Australia is proud of its national women’s football team.
Of that we can be certain, after the Matildas did everything they could to progress through to the FIFA Women’s World Cup final but fell just short in a heartbreaking night of missed opportunities against England.
The Matildas captured the imagination of the entire nation during their inspired run to the last four, galvanising Australian people like nothing we’ve seen since Cathy Freeman and before.
Watch the latest sport on Channel 7 or stream for free on 7plus >>
The entire country stood almost breathless as the Aussies took on the English in Wednesday night’s blockbuster, but the host nation fell short as the inexorable class of the Lionesses powered them to a 3-1 victory in front of almost 80,000 fans at Stadium Australia in Sydney.
But if there’s one thing of which we can be sure, Australia’s loss wasn’t through lack of trying.
They played right until the final whistle had blown, just as they had promised each other they would.
Speaking to Channel 7 after the gut-wrenching loss, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson revealed a pact the players made between themselves and the coach.
Matildas player ratings: Sam Kerr delivers on tough night
England captain’s surprise Sam Kerr act after Matildas lose semi-final
Tony Gustavsson said the players made a promise to each other before the game. Credit: Getty/Channel 7
“It’s a fail to lose a game,” he admitted.
“I am happy that the fans gave the players support after the game. I think the reason why they did that is because they are still proud of the players that they leave everything out there.
“We said that tonight: promise each other that we just leave everything out there — that is a success itself.
“And they left it all out there. Unfortunately tonight, it wasn’t enough.”
Superstar striker Sam Kerr had a number of chances late in the game to draw Australia level but the Matildas skipper was unable to convert, blasting one over the bar and having another cleared off the line.
Gustavsson said Kerr was beating herself up for her failure to get the Matildas back into the game for a second time after her freakish first goal from outside the box.
Kerr said England’s composure was the difference between the two sides after the Lionesses hit them on the counter late in the game to seal victory.
“There was only a couple of moments in the game and I guess they took theirs,” Kerr said.
“I thought it was honestly pretty even and from where I was sitting it kind of ebbed and flowed each way but after we scored I thought we were going to go and score another.
“Then they kind of took momentum back so I guess it felt like it would have been a great game to watch honestly from where I was.”